In Which I Feel Sorry For Myself

Despite my focus on RR here, I don’t often play the mommy card in life. In fact, I outwardly cringe at the opportunities some of my acquaintances take to blame their own anger and world weariness on their kid. Now, bless their hearts, they are usually bemoaning something that any of us would find frustrating – having a cold while being busy at work, for example. That’s sufficient for me to feel deep sympathy that you are suffering so much, you poor, exhausted thing. I usually even say something sympathetic. That’s right. I love you even when you complain. Going for the “you think THAT’S bad” point and using the expression “prego cold” in response to someone whose leg is broken doesn’t actual bolster a complaint. In fact, it makes me less sympathetic since it implies that you are a beleaguered soul single-handedly taking on the future of the world. Yes, that happened. Pregnancy and motherhood are fucking hard. But it’s okay for other people to have hard things, too.

I know someone who, in all seriousness, called the city to ask them not to jackhammer at 10am on the street a few blocks away since her child hadn’t been sleeping well and sometimes fell asleep at that time. Obviously, she said, the person in charge of that crew isn’t a parent. She also says things like this: “This mama bear is so angry! How dare you not smile at my kid when he waves to you on the bus!” Dude, I wish the world revolved around my kid, too, but strangers have a right not to engage. I once spent an entire cross-country flight with a kid eyeballing me through the seat backs chattering and waving after I smiled once. The mother thought it was endearing. I wanted a privacy screen.

Which brings me to this. We have an emergency weather system at work where a pre-identified group of people must come in when the campus closes in order to keep the libraries open. Typically, those people are within walking distance but a large number of people who live within walking distance are not on the list. A large number of those people are single or don’t have kids/aging parents/etc. at home. When I asked to be taken off the list while RR was young and dealing with school cancellations, I got pushback. Despite working in an office where several other people either live equally as close (or closer) and do not feel the impact when schools close. I’m so frustrated. I don’t consider two and half miles with an under-five a reasonable distance. It also sucks to have to get out and shovel/scrape an hour earlier while keeping the kid inside occupied. Frankly, I just want to be home and not on the roads while I’m raising a young child.

Look, I know that all of those complaints are just as valid without the kid codicil. No one wants to be on the roads. No one wants to get up an hour earlier. No one thinks walking two and a half miles in inclement weather is reasonable. But come on, man. Although I am temporarily off the list, it isn’t without a huge amount of pressure and guilt. My boss lives a few houses away and since she can come in (and did while she raised three young boys) I should surely be able to.

Gah. Thanks for listening.

7 Responses

  1. My last office job for a supposed family friendly employer couldn’t understand why I didn’t make it in on snowdays – and I lived nowhere near walking distance to the office and the road the office was on did not get plowed by the county – and I don’t have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Basically, you were taking your life into your own hands on snow days, which I chose to not do. It actually had nothing to do with having a kid, although she was a good excuse.

    If I had three kids, especially three boys, I’d probably walk a few miles in the snow to escape to work though.

    • Excellent way of looking at it! I’m very much an opponent of working when the roads are bad. I also think that “bad” should be in the eyes of the driver not the eyes of the boss. Your bad is not my bad and so forth. Kids or no kids.

  2. …. wait, “come in when the campus closes in order to keep the libraries open”?? These people seem to have problems with the meaning of CLOSED. I can see keeping physical plant and food service open, but, much as I love books, libraries are not actually necessary if campus is CLOSED.

    Maybe you could (anonymously) send your boss a couple links about Marissa Meyer and explain that just because one person does something annoying and inconvenient, from a place of great privilege, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    • Seriously. The rationale is that the library considers itself an essential academic service (much like breathing, apparently) and also a place for students to go who needs power/warmth. I think it’s obvious that I have slightly different views 😉 though I do see the value to students – they definitely come in!

  3. As another academic library worker, I totally agree that if you are open the students will come-the better to drink their five-hour-energy and watch cat videos on youtube. So, yeah, that whole situation sounds frustrating. You shouldn’t have to carry a toddler on your back through 2.5 miles of snow (uphill both ways!) to be a good employee.

    Mama bears, oh the mama bears. I hope they won’t be hurt by my gentle snerk.

  4. Can’t there be some kind of rotation system? So that it’s not the same people getting the short stick every time? Because that doesn’t sound very fair.

    I have to admit, when the child-free people around me are complaining about how they didn’t get much sleep last night because they stayed out late last night and now they can’t wait to get home and take a nap, I kind of want to roll my eyes a bit. I mean, consider your audience, you know? Not that I haven’t been there, done that, but I am currently so insanely jealous that your evening plans are napping and catching up on your tv shows that I don’t even want to talk about it. (Not that I would trade the opportunity to read Cars and Trucks and Things that go for the 5,000th time, and not that I don’t love the crap out of my kid, but I do miss being a slacker sometimes.)

    That being said… I also try not to play the parent card too much. Like, I don’t think it’s bad to complain about Critter waking up early when my co-worker is complaining that her cat woke her up early and wouldn’t let her go to sleep again. Not to “top” it, just to commiserate. We’re all tired here. (Besides, sometimes I tell cat stories too.)

    When Critter was tiny, and wouldn’t sleep unless he was being held, and sometimes unless he was being worn while you walked around, we took a lot of walks around the neighborhood. A lot of them. For hours at a time. Ahem. Anyway, we were wandering down a residential street one day, and all of a sudden some power tool started up, and nearly woke Critter, and I was briefly incensed. How dare they be noisy in this generally quiet neighborhood… at, well, 10:00 in the morning… and, um. Then I realized I was being completely unreasonable, and that these people had every right to be doing renovations in the middle of the day, and I had gone a little insane. But at least I caught myself, right? That’s worth something, isn’t it?

    • I think there’s something about the combination of power tools and sleep deprivation that makes us all a little crazy!

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